Digital Interactive Gaming (DIG) London 2011 is almost here! This week, in fact. For those of you not from the London, Ontario area and who are wondering, DIG London is an annual gaming conference that promotes and celebrates the local gaming industry where much of Gaming Union calls home. Companies from across Ontario, Canada and the world come to show their work and discuss how the industry can move forward. Leading up to DIG this week, we sat down with some influential developers from the London area to discuss DIG and their own studios. Former CEO and Co-Founder of DICE and current head of Antic Entertainment, Fredrik Liliegren is first up. Enjoy!
Gaming Union: How are you participating in DIG this year?
Fredrik Liliegren: [Antic] is participating in a couple of panels, and of course, listening to all of the other speakers. We are also meeting with some outside companies that are coming in for the conference, such as Konami.
Personally, I am a guest on a panel called 'Games: A Hit-Driven Business', which I assume will be discussing how important it is in today's world to distinguish yourself as a "hit", rather than just an overall good game. But I am just a guest and not the moderator, so I am not 100% sure where it will go.
GU: What role do you see DIG playing in promoting the local gaming industry? And what value do you get out of attending as a developer?
Fredrik: The value really is to highlight that there is a development cluster in Ontario, and more specifically, in London. For us as developers, DIG is always a good way to meet people who come from outside London, primarily across Ontario, and to build relationships from that.
GU: More broadly, how do you see the local gaming industry growing going forward?
Fredrik: I think we're going to start seeing some of the effects from larger publishers locating in Toronto, such as Ubisoft and Zynga also acquiring a new company there. We're starting to see bigger companies in our space establishing themselves across Ontario, and I think that will have some spillover effects for London because we already have three fairly well-established studios here - in addition to a few smaller ones.
GU: Do you see these investments as an opportunity for your own company to draw from a wider pool of talent?
Fredrik: Potentially. I think the biggest impact is that people pay attention when somebody like Ubisoft or Zynga invests in a particular area. That usually will cause others to look at what the area has to offer for them. I think when they look at Southwestern Ontario, they will see there's a ton of talent here to draw from and that benefits all of us. It could be setting up an office here or simply signing more development deals, but either way, the area begins to look like an attractive place to come.
GU: Do you have close relationships with the other studios in London?
Fredrik: Absolutely. In London, we have a very close working relationship with the other companies. We are all working in a slightly different spaces, so we don't do a lot of day-to-day operational work, but there's a lot of crossover in terms of socializing with people from other companies. Specifically, I think myself, Damir Slogar [Big Blue Bubble], and Michael Schmalz [Digital Extremes] have a very good rapport, and when we can get together, we try to do so.
GU: Looking at Antic specifically, I recall reading about a deal you guys had signed with Nexon, stemming from a contest for a $1 million development contract. How did that come about and what became of it?
Fredrik: That $1 million was the amount of disclosed paper money, but I can tell you the actual deal was much larger than that between us and one other company. The product from that deal is actually live, it went live a few weeks ago. It's a Facebook game called Zombie Misfits, and I would encourage everyone to go check it out.
In this particular example, a couple of months ago we shipped an internal IP called Platoons, and that was the project we originally brought forward for the Nexon initiative. We submitted Platoons to the competition. Nexon liked the game and the concept, but they had an internal idea that they wanted us to help them develop. That's how Zombie Misfits came about. They brought an initial high-concept to us, and together we refined the design. Antic completed the programming, art and additional design work that was needed to bring the project to a launchable state. We also continue to work on it in a support role.
GU: One last question. Before Battlefield 3 was really on the horizon, you had done an interview with us saying it would "blow everyone away." Have you been playing the finished product?
Fredrik: To be honest, I have not had the time yet to play it, but I have watched many of my colleagues at Antic play it. I think it's safe to say it's the best Battlefield [DICE] has made so far.
GU: Thanks for your time, Fredrik. We'll see you at DIG!
For more information on DIG London 2011, visit their website HERE.